We Still Have a Lot of Work To Do

There are places in the American south that haven’t realized that we’ve move beyond the 1950s.

A Louisiana justice of the peace said he refused to issue a marriage license to an interracial couple out of concern for any children the couple might have. Keith Bardwell, justice of the peace in Tangipahoa Parish, says it is his experience that most interracial marriages do not last long.

“I’m not a racist. I just don’t believe in mixing the races that way,” Bardwell told the Associated Press on Thursday. “I have piles and piles of black friends. They come to my home, I marry them, they use my bathroom. I treat them just like everyone else.”

Bardwell said he asks everyone who calls about marriage if they are a mixed race couple. If they are, he does not marry them, he said.

(link) (Hat tip)

My favourite part of this quote?

“I’m not a racist. I just don’t believe in mixing the races that way…”

Uh, huh. Yeah. Right.

Update: Need an antidote to the above? Check this out.


The Flawed Measuring Stick

In completely unrelated news, the CBC is reporting that Canada experienced “negative inflation” this past September, which prices on average showing up 0.9% less on the sticker than they did one year ago.

Another name for “negative inflation”, of course, is “deflation”, but economists don’t seem to want to utter that word, possibly due to its association with major economic recessions. But I don’t think they need worry. Read this quote:

But the gap is certain to close in the next inflation report because it was at about this time last year that gasoline prices began falling in response to recessionary forces and the collapse in global oil demand.

“There are no major surprises here,” BMO economist Doug Porter wrote in a research note on Friday. “This is likely the low-water mark for inflation, as the steep slide in pump prices late last year will soon fall out of the calculation, and headline inflation is poised to move back into positive terrain possibly by next month.”

No other component of the consumer price index has been as critical in suppressing inflationary pressures as energy, the agency noted.

Excluding the effect of energy prices, the annual inflation in Canada was well above zero in September at 1.3 per cent.

(link)

Note what’s being said, here: we know inflation is going to go up because it’s nearly a year to a day that our extremely high oil prices started dropping in response to reduced demand resulting from the recession. Therefore, instead of comparing oil prices to a time when they were unnaturally high, we’ll be comparing them to a time when they dropped, and so deflation will end.

If you consider that oil has been acting like a yo-yo these past five years, achieving monstrous heights of over $100 a barrel before dipping down so low that even Alberta got thrown into a deficit, what we have here is something that isn’t quite telling us what we’d like to know about the economy. We’re just told what the prices — all the prices — are, compared to last year. It doesn’t tell us in one easy to reference number what prices are up and what are down and, more importantly, how the prices compare to two, three or four years ago, before oil embarked on its roller-coaster ride.

Time to either refine the inflation rate number, I think, either by dividing it into a grouping of numbers that each examine a sector of consumer purchases, and which possibly average out the highs and lows of volatile goods, so we can look at trends over the longer term.

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